Good Thursday morning. Here’s a look at opinion content published today and Wednesday in The Journal News:
Wednesday, May 18
John King Jr.: Editorial
We comment on the Monday decision by the Board of Regents to tap John King Jr. as New York’s next commissioner of education. Currently senior deputy commissioner of educatoin, King will replace the outgoing Commissioner David Steiner We write:
… The 36-year-old King embodies the tension in public education today. He cites his New York City public school education as his lifeline after losing both parents by the age of 12; he credits his public school teachers (by name) for inspiring him to achieve at a high level. Yet King has been a key player in the charter school movement — a cause that some critics see as a threat to public schools.
King played a lead role in the state’s winning application for the White House’s charter-schools-friendly federal Race To The Top grant program; he also brokered the fragile alliance with teacher unions to create new teacher assessments — an imperative for the state’s application to the federal initiative. (The same agreements unraveled Monday when the Regents changed gears and decided to give greater weight in the evaluation process to students’ results on standardized tests. Teachers have threatened a lawsuit over the last-minute changes.)
The teacher-assessment flap is just one of many landmines that dot the schools landscape. Big issues awaiting King include: maintaining and improving academic standards with shrinking resources — the Regents this week drew criticism for cutting back on certain Regents exam offerings to save money; and supporting school districts and boards of education in their efforts to curb unfunded mandates — an issue that has become linked to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push for a property tax cap. …
Thursday, May 19
We conclude that the decision by U.S. officials this week to extend and expand rules allowing nonresident Haitians to remain here helps provide a measure of relief. We write:
… Temporary Protected Status is a special status granted to those fleeing crises brought on by political upheaval or natural disaster in their native lands. Haiti, of course, has had heaping doses of both. Days after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, Haitians already in the U.S. when the earthquake hit were granted the special status — a wholly necessary humanitarian gesture that provided much peace of mind to the large contingent of Haitians who divide their time between the Lower Hudson Valley and Haiti.
That original permission was set to expire this July. The extension, announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, allows TPS holders to stay until January 2013; it also makes room for those who missed the original TPS deadline to apply now. A new TPS category also allows Haitians who came here during the first year after the quake to apply for permission to remain in the U.S. legally. The action comes as Haiti, which recently conducted a rare peaceful transition of presidential power, continues to suffer under the weight of a barely quelled cholera epidemic, tent cities and substandard public services. …
Astorino v. Jenkins: Reisman
Phil Reisman comments on the sustained dispute between Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins. He writes:
An intervention is needed now — that’s how bad things are between Rob Astorino’s Republican administration and the Democratic legislative majority led by Ken Jenkins.
It was clear early on that County Executive Astorino and Chairman Jenkins couldn’t stand each other. At first it was kind of a funny feud between liberal and conservative ideologues.
But now you can sense a palpable change.
The situation is past the point of partisan bickering. It’s become personal, mean and childish — and it’s building to a dangerous boiling point. Both sides ought to climb out of their respective playpens and grow up before something really regrettable happens.
They ought to grow up, not only for their own sake but for the sake of the public trust, which they are annihilating with tit-for-tat stupidity.
And this unpleasant lecture is coming from me, of all people, a newspaper columnist who thrives on political conflict and someone who can hardly lay claim to being a paragon of maturity.
Here’s a sampling of what our colleagues are saying:
Tighten New York’s pension rules: Editorial, Newsday
New pension tier is needed step: Editorial, Poughkeepsie Journal
Today’s terror target: Editorial, Daily News
Silver insults Cuomo, voters: Editorial, The Buffalo News
An incomplete agenda for New York: Editorial, Albany Times Union
Bad year down, another to come: Editorial, Times Herald-Record